The Black Tambourines, with Joanna Gruesome and Mowbird, Buffalo Bar, Cardiff, 12 December 2011

11 Jan

 The only danger with doing a gig so close to Christmas with posters proclaiming “Fuck Christmas” is that on a wet and windy night, it’s quite likely it will backfire and no-one will show up. Bands as NME-cool as this trio will say that they just don’t care, when deep down, you know they do. As it turned out, people were undeterred by the weather’s poor performance – perhaps because it was the kind of weather indie kids like to go out in – and there was quite a good showing for this small venue.

First band, Mowbird come on with the drummer grinning like Charlie from “Charlie Bit My Finger (Again)”. With a backdrop of old Godzilla films, or something of that nature, I got a slight sense of seen it all before, but at least they had enthusiasm – they were apparently excited about having driven all the way from Wrexham to one of their favourite venues. Possibly the stand-out track for me was “Dear Daria” which is reminiscent of “Buddy Holly” by Weezer or an old Supergrass song, with a bit more indie attitude. Not really sure about the band’s name – is it kind of meant to be the opposite of morbid?

Next up we had Joanna Gruesome, who ticked all the right boxes – clattering noise, a bit like Sonic Youth (tick); blonde lead singer in short white dress that could double as a nightdress, sultry and unsmiling, except once, in an embarrassed kind of way, when singing some high notes (tick); bassist with fugazi t-shirt and floppy fringe (tick). They didn’t quite tick the “would I go out of my way to see them again” box though. Two of the guitarists chose to play, not on the stage, but on the dancefloor (I use the term loosely – the chances of anyone moving more than a muscle in an attempt to dance at a gig like this were zero). One of them had a guitar strap with the words, “Schools are prisons” on it, which I expect he’s had since his school days (probably not more than a year ago), and should really think about changing now. I wonder if he went to prison if it would cross his mind that prison life was like being in school?

I’ll be perfectly honest, in my own younger days as an avid NME reader, this would have been exactly the sort of gig I’d have rubbed my hands with anticipation at the prospect of, so I shouldn’t be too cynical – I’m sure the majority of the teenage crowd enjoyed it.

Black Tambourines took the stage, and as someone who has a bit of a thing about band names, I suppose I have to say something about theirs. I like it. Apparently, it’s a rip off of another band called Black Tambourine. There is a discussion online about the merits of this, and in a way I quite like the idea – perhaps we should have The New Orders or The Pink Floyds. Anyone trying to borrow these names will immediately be assumed to be tribute bands, I suppose, so perhaps it only works with lesser known names, but in principle, I like the idea.

The sound was, well, more of the same pretty much. If you’d walked in at any point during the night, you might have struggled to pinpoint exactly which of the 3 bands was playing (although that shouldn’t really matter) with The Black Tambourines, as you’d expect being the headliners, sounding the most rehearsed and polished. They are billed as a garage rock band, and I couldn’t help but think that there was a mod influence in there too, which was confirmed after the gig when I saw one of the band in a parker jacket, plus target.

Later downstairs, the DJ played Christmas songs and people consumed drinks called “Gas Chambers”.

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